Govt introduces GST Bill in Rajya Sabha; unrelenting Congress blocks discussion
The Congress members also strongly opposed the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST), which was introduced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha. The continued protests by the Congress-led Opposition members led to the adjournment of the Upper House till tomorrow.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government on Tuesday introduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in the Rajya Sabha amid strong protests from the Opposition members.
According to reports, the Opposition MPs raised slogans as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley began to read out the clauses of the GST Bill.
Jaitley also criticised the Opposition, saying the Congress does not want the economic growth of the country.
However, continued protests by the Congress-led Opposition members, minutes after the GST Bill was introduced, led to the adjournment of the Upper House till tomorrow.
The Goods and Services Tax seeks to create a new indirect tax regime, which will comprise various central and state levies. They include sales tax, excise and services tax except taxes on the supply of alcohol for human consumption and petroleum products.
Earlier, Congress leader Anand Sharma attacked the Modi government by saying, “PM is neither sincere nor serious about the functioning of the house.”
“It is the PM's obduracy and arrogance, which is responsible for the ongoing stalemate in Parliament. He can't rewrite the rule book,” the Congress leader added.
Attempting to corner the BJP-led NDA disposition, Sharma said, “Will BJP apologise for unravelling India's growth story by constant blocking and disruptions when it was in Opposition?”
In fresh attack from Congress, its MPs today came to the House wearing black bands and raised anti-government slogans, which evoked a sharp protest from the treasury benches.
The BJP and Congress had earlier issued whip to its members asking them to be present in both Houses today and tomorrow.
The Congress had yesterday continued its vociferous protests in and outside Parliament and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was "very close" to fugitive former IPL chief Lalit Modi. The Samajwadi Party, however, signalled breaking of ranks with the Congress over the protests in Parliament.
Peeved at the continuing logjam in Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hit back at the Congress, blaming party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for the-three week stalemate in both the Houses.
He said it was a pretext to stop passage of the Goods and Services Tax bill, which will be pushed in Rajya Sabha today.
The BJP also dismissed the Congress allegations against Narendra Modi as "laughable and childish".
The logjam in Parliament continued with both houses witnessing adjournments due to vociferous protests by the Congress throughout the day.
Outside, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi attacked the Prime Minister for praising the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh chief ministers at a rally in Gaya.
"The Prime Minister ignored the fact that there is a business relationship between a criminal and the chief minister of Rajasthan," Rahul Gandhi said.
He said Parliament would function after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj disclosed her family's financial transactions with former Indian Premier League (IPL) chief Lalit Modi, facing investigation by the Enforcement Directorate.
"Please explain how much money from Lalit Modi has come into your family's account," he asked.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal told the media later that Narendra Modi as the then chief minister of Gujarat, along with the present BJP president Amit Shah, was "apparently involved in manipulating bids" with the help of Lalit Modi to ensure that the Gujarat Cricket Association favours an "industrialist friend" of his (Narendra Modi) "with an IPL franchise".
Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar rejected the Congress allegations.
Meanwhile, in a signal of cracks in the Opposition unity, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav assured Speaker Sumitra Mahajan yesterday that his party would not join the protests led by the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
Mahajan had called the meeting with representatives of all political parties to find a way out of the logjam in the lower house. According to sources, Yadav said the Samajwadi Party wants the house to function.
He also said the house cannot function according to the whims and fancies of the Congress leadership. The party had earlier not supported the Congress demand for Sushma Swaraj's resignation.
The Congress is demanding the resignations of Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for their alleged help to Lalit Modi, and of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.
On Monday, the Lok Sabha was adjourned after three adjournments due to protests by the Congress members who raised anti-government slogans, carried placards and came near the speaker's podium to demand the resignations of three BJP leaders.
As 25 Congress members returned to the house after being suspended for five days, disruptions in proceedings of the lower house, as had happened last week, were witnessed.
In the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the government of not making any attempt to end the logjam.
With Agency inputs